I Do Not Want Your Tolerance, Thank You Very Much

In PeaceAble on February 21, 2015 at 12:38 pm

I hate the word “tolerance.”

We should be tolerant, we are told, of those who are different from ourselves; tolerant of those who believe differently, love differently, live differently, look different, have different needs or different habits, come from different places, and make different choices.

This is wrong. Tolerance of the other says that they are inferior to us, that they actually have no right to be different, but there’s nothing we can do about it and so we must tolerate it. Tolerance says that we still think there is something wrong with it, but (look at how mature and superior we are being) we will allow it. Tolerance is the self-indulgence of privilege.

Who are we to allow or disallow, to tolerate or not tolerate? What gives us the right or privilege to judge the other worthy or unworthy?

I do not want your tolerance. It insults me. It seeks to put me in a place that you have chosen for me, so that I do not choose to be where I wish to be; to be who I wish to be.

Accept me as I am. See how I am different and know the importance in that, know the value in those differences. If you cannot do that, then leave me alone.

I do not ask you to love me. I do not ask you to agree with me. I do not ask you to keep company with me; I do not seek your approval or your friendship or your confidence. I seek only to move at large through the common, public places of the world just as you, and to know that my right to be there is not questioned, that tolerance is unnecessary because there is nothing to be tolerated. You are you and I am I and we both belong. I seek also for those private places where I can be at peace, where who I am is no business of yours; not yours to judge, not yours to tolerate.

As for me, I refuse to tolerate the other. I will not be color blind. I will not hold my nose or turn my gaze when I encounter the other, then congratulate myself for pretending not to see what I have seen. I will not celebrate the privilege I claim that allows me to see you as the other, as the different. Because your difference is also mine. Let me see how you are different, so I can know what you have to teach me. Let me see how your difference meets the world, experiences life; give me a chance to see the world with you in it and to see something of the world through your eyes.

Let us honor each other.

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